There was a lot of expectation on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, following his big money move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
The Armenian midfielder had been a revelation for the German side in his three seasons at the club, becoming a key component in the teams that excited in the Bundesliga and Champions League.
United securing his signature was a big sign of the intent from the club; they intended to challenge at the top once more.
His first year at Old Trafford has not panned out how many would have expected though. In truth, he’s been nothing short of a disappointing.
Mkhitaryan was such an exciting signing but at times he’s looked as out of place as my Fitbit. Hoping for better next season.
— Pilib de Brún (@Malachians) 4 May 2017
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His goal tally is a prime example of that fact. In his final season at Dortmund, he managed 23 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions. This year, he has managed just ten in 37.
In the league alone his goal tally has fallen from 11 to four. And the forward’s number of assists are down from 15 to just one.
On a per-game basis, he’s managed fewer forward passes, fewer successful passes, fewer key passes and created fewer chances. The stats don’t lie; his first season in England has been one of regression rather than progression. It’s disappointing by anyone’s reckoning.
His lack of a significant contribution is something that has affected United’s season dramatically.
The club was supposed to push straight back to the top of the table and challenge for titles with their big signings playing a key role. No such transformation has taken place.
Instead, they sit fifth in the table and are likely to miss out on the top four once again – a Europa League run is covering up the cracks.
While United could still finish the season with two trophies to their name and Champions League football it won’t be good enough.
For a club the size of their size, winning the Capital One Cup, the Europa League and finishing fifth is far below what many were expecting would happen this year.
If Mkhitaryan had played anything like he did for Dortmund last season, things would have been very different for United this season. He hasn’t injected the team with the star power he was supposed to.
Even the excitement levels around Mkhitaryan have significantly fallen. During his time with Dortmund, he became renowned as a player that could produce something special.
This year, that ability to do the unthinkable has been seriously lacking. Aside from his scorpion kick against Sunderland, it’s hard to think of any moments that he has truly produced the wow factor.
Ibrahimovic has dominated this season and Mkhitaryan is one who has been happy to let him have the limelight. The club have only seen glimpses of the superstar they thought they were getting.
It’s been all or nothing with Mkhitaryan this season. He’s either the Armenian Messi or the invisible man
— Michael Barton (@mrmichaelbarton) 28 April 2017
Some might argue that Jose Mourinho’s style has hundered the club and its players this season, with the Portuguese boss having certainly stifled the attacking talents to some degree. However, that argument provides an easy excuse for a group of players who have underperformed though.
Mkhitaryan has been nowhere near good enough and there is no escaping the obvious, his first season in England has been a major disappointment.